Back in September of 2017, we named the Finnish songwriter Mikko Joensuu an Artist To Watch upon the release of his stunning debut solo LPs, the Amen trilogy. But before that, Mikko was in a band called Joensuu 1685, featuring his brother Markus and bassist Risto Joensuu (who isn’t related to them).
Joensuu 1685 developed a little bit of buzz in their time — they actually played Stereogum’s show at the Norwegian festival by:Larm way back in January of 2010 — but spent much of the last decade off doing their own thing. While Mikko labored over his solo albums for years, Markus and Risto played in the Finnish post-rock outfit Siinai, who wound up collaborating with Wolf Parade’s Spencer Krug for his Moonface project. But in 2018, Joensuu 1685 reunited for their first shows in eight years — they were a highlight at Helsinki’s Flow Festival when I attended that year — and now they are finally returning with new music.
Today, Joensuu 1685 have released a new single called, fittingly enough, “Hey My Friend (We’re Here Again).” Apparently this is a preview of a new album to come, and a press release notes that the trio is delving further into their krautrock/space-rock inspirations.
Mikko’s solo work mostly skewed towards a spectral kind of country and ambient electronic voyages, though you could hear traces of Joensuu 1685’s hazy psychedelia in solo tracks like “There Used To Be A Darkness.” (Joensuu 1685 also do a killer cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” that makes it sound like it’s by Spiritualized.) In comparison, Joensuu 1685’s new single is indeed a sprawling, spaced-out reintroduction. Stretching to seven and a half minutes, it has the feeling of a curtain rising gradually, or a friend returning and ready to talk after some time away. Check it out below.